Controlling fleas in the Environment
Veterinarian Reviewed on November 7, 2011 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
The secret to flea control is in the FREQUENCY of your flea treatments. You should be attacking the new adult fleas every 2 weeks or so but most conventional treatments ( house sprays) should only be used once a month or so due to the toxicity. If you use a conventional spray (no foggers please), use one with pyrethrins AND methoprene, and use as often as the label allows. These do leave toxic chemicals in your environment so beware!
The more natural alternatives include using diatomaceous earth or borax in your carpets, but these treatments are fairly messy for the frequency . One of the best natural flea treatment is borax salts, which is not the same as 20 Mule Team from the grocery store. This is a form of borax that lasts for up to one year in your carpet/upholstery, which is tantamount to treating for fleas EVERY DAY. This product will lighten your work load considerably. You can find these products in local pet stores, or online ( if you are in the US under Fleabusters )
Remember to pay special attention to areas where your pet hangs out or sleeps. If you can wash the bedding then do so frequently. For dogs, cedar beds may help a bit.
Vacuuming frequently removes flea eggs and larvae. Daily vacuuming is the best and you can cut up a flea collar and put it in your vacuum bag. Some people have had luck with flea traps, but these only address the small proportion of fleas that happen to be adult, and they will not make a difference if used alone.
It is most important to treat the areas where your pet spends a lot of time. You can spray the yard with insecticides or chose a natural approach. Natural treatments that have been used include diatomaceous earth, pyrethrum dust and “beneficial nematodes”.These beneficial organisms are sold under individual brand names like Orcon, Interrupt, Lawn Patrol and Guardian. Apparently these nematodes attack and kill the larvae of fleas, as well as those of over 250 other harmful insects like peach tree borers, roaches and possibly termites. These nematodes are said to be harmless to beneficial insects, birds and mammals. Look for them in garden centers.
You need to maintain flea control all season long whether you use conventional or natural products. The advantage to natural flea products is that they may be safer to use. By feeding a great diet, removing fleas from your pet frequently, and using natural treatments for the environment , you will find that natural flea control works fairly well.
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for 28 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan